The US House of Representatives is set to begin debate today on a bill that seeks to ban abortions that are based on the sex of the fetus. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) has been extremely controversial and many groups are calling it an attempt to limit abortions. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), would impose criminal penalties on doctors who perform an abortion for a woman who seeks the procedure on the basis of the gender of the fetus. It also prohibits federal funding for organizations that do not comply and medical professionals will be required to report any suspicions of sex-selective abortions.

President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta, told reporters that “by putting abortion providers at risk for criminal prosecution and incarceration, this bill attempts to intimidate medical professionals from providing care and from having the vitally important open and honest conversations they must have with their patients.” In a joint blog post on the Huffington Post, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Black Women’s Health Imperative wrote that the law targets women of color because “this bill means that all women- and to be clear, particularly Asian American women – who seek an abortion could face new, intense scrutiny. In particular, given the issue of sex selection in Asian countries, any woman who appears to be Asian American risks intense questioning about the decision she has made to seek an abortion.”

The bill is said to come to a vote tomorrow, being brought to the floor under suspension of House rules. As a result, two thirds of the House will have to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass. The Hill says this is unlikely to occur because it would require 50 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill.

The Hill 5/29/12; Washington Post 5/29/12; Think Progress 5/29/12; Huffington Post 5/29/12

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